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to make the city fix its plumbing. so in 1994, we started upper chattahoochee river keeper. we filed a clean water act lawsuit. in 1997, we won. and so for the past decade, the city has embarked on a program to clean up the river. now, with 1,800 miles of sewer system, three sewage plants and combined sewer overflows, it took a number of years to figure out what would be the solution. we are facing a crisis in infrastructure. bethea: a huge change came about when mayor shirley franklin became the mayor of atlanta. we're having to choose how to spend our money. i named myself "the sewer mayor," and i wear that title very proudly, because, without wastewater infrastructure and drinking water infrastructure, the economy will stop. we did a major outreach. we trained an outreach team, who went to every community meeting, to educate people on how bad the crisis was.
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not only did i tell people that we'd have to raise rates, i told them we'd have to tear up the city to repair this infrastructure. man: you can't simply say, "i won't use any water, it's too expensive." we have about 25% of our population that's at or below the poverty line, so you have to look at rate structures that are tiered so the people can pay their bills. franklin: we would love to have something like 75% federal money. we do get some federal aid and we are thankful, but on the other hand, we're paying for this primarily with new rates. we have increased our rates to among the highest in america. but not nearly as much as if we hadn't passed a one-cent sales tax dedicated to water and sewer infrastructure. hunter: that sales tax counts for about a third of the revenue of the department right now. franklin: we got 75% of the voters to agree to tax themselves so that their children and their children's children could have clean water
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because we're investing in it now. hunter: there were no alternatives. the infrastructure was in dire straits. a lot of people didn't want to believe it had to be done, but it had to be done. what came out of those lawsuits by the upper chattahoochee river keeper were two consent decrees, focused on overflows. the intent is, city of atlanta, you need to keep the flows in the pipe. narrator: with the help of the funding the city raised, atlanta has been implementing an asset management plan that evaluates and addresses their infrastructure issues. hunter: it's a continuum. at one end, you have your regular maintenance that you do every day on the system, and at the other end, long-term planning so that every year we're repairing, replacing the right things, and we don't have to do it all at once, which is, quite frankly, what we're having to do in atlanta now. griffin: we have thousands of assets that we have to keep track of. we have to always know their condition
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and continuously plan for their refurbishment at the right time. one of the things we're required to do under the consent decree is inspect our system. we're trying to find where there's leaks. so we blow smoke into the sewer pipe. man: we're locating places where water from the surface to the ground is running into the sewer pipe and overloading the system. hunter: we have 1,600 miles of sewer. we are evaluating every linear foot of that system. is the pipe leaking; are you having a lot of infiltration or inflow? thornell: every time it rains, water will come down, go into the pipe, enter the sewer system. it's very easy to repair this defect and get all that water out of the system. griffin: with our closed-circuit tv inspection, we record cracks, holes, pipes that are partially collapsed. hunter: we literally will have a digital video of every foot of our sewer
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that in the future, we can go back and do a comparison. what's changed? is it degrading? what do we need to do? at what rate is this happening? griffin: to really improve these systems, you need to deploy the latest technology. woman: the pipe bursting process is designed to replace an old pipe without digging an entire trench. the old pipe has cracks and displaced joints and openings in it. we try to stop, not only infiltration, but exfiltration, where sewage would actually leak out of the pipe. the head is larger, so it breaks away the old pipe and allows the new pipe to come in behind it. griffin: we are saving about 67% of the cost of actually digging old pipe up. clyne: it's less invasive than an open-cut process, where you would open the whole trench up and replace the pipe. it's called "trenchless" technology, so...
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that's as good as it gets. griffin: we don't have to dig up everyone's yard, and we refurbish that pipe at a much-reduced cost. another technique, the cured-in-place lining. it's equivalent to putting a large sock through the existing sewer. we form a new pipe inside the old pipe, and therefore we seal up all of the defects that allow rainwater to come in. hunter: we repair about 730 leaks a month in our system. griffin: the improvements that we've made will make the environment better. we had approximately 1,000 overflows occur in 1999. today, we've reduced overflows by 45% to 50%. and it's going to continue to improve as we go forward with the rehabilitation program that's required under the consent decree. narrator: an important piece of the program
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is the construction of an 8-mile-long storage tank that will significantly decrease combined sewer overflows. man: right now, we're at the bottom of the rockdale construction shaft. we're 310 feet below grade, deep under atlanta in hard rock. in the downtown area of atlanta, the sewer system and the stormwater system are combined and there are overflows during storm events, and so the purpose of this system is to relieve that flow, take it into the tunnel, transport it to a brand-new treatment plant, clean up the chattahoochee river. narrator: instead of the combined sewage overflowing into the river, it will flow into this tunnel that acts as a storage tank. the water will then slowly empty into the new plant for treatment before it's released back into the river. man: the system in total is about 8 1/2 miles, 27 feet in diameter.
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most of the time it will be dry. the only time it will fill is when the sewer system is overwhelmed by the storm. it is a massive project. our budget was $210 million. we've worked about a million and a half man-hours. hunter: it is an incredible amount of work. our capital program right now is $3.9 billion. over a period of less than 10 years. franklin: so it's very expensive. the bottom line is, we, as atlantans, as georgians, don't have a choice to protect the river. we need to leave it better than we found it, and it's really been a political advantage for me, not a disadvantage. people laugh about me being the sewer mayor, but they remember what i'm doing. griffin: we want people to understand, when they see one of our work crews out working on the mains,
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that that work is necessary in order for them to have good clean drinking water or to have a good, functioning wastewater system. franklin: you don't put a roof on the house one time. you don't fix the plumbing one time, any more than i get my hair done one time. if we don't continue to invest for the next 20 years, we'll find ourselves back at the same point that we were in the late '90s. if we don't protect water, we will be without water. we will be without industry, we will be without jobs, we will be without a healthy economy, and our people will be sick. so we don't really have a choice. we're going to find out why that's important. it's a question of, who's going to pay, how much you're going to be willing to pay in order to ensure that your children live the kind of life that we as americans have promised them. woman: and what we're going to do is get a marble to travel through your pipe. child: keep still! keep still! woman: aw, there's a clog in the drain.
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oh, there it is. [ laughing ] narrator: in the 19th century, foresighted leadership and innovative engineering established drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure that supported the growth of the nation. through much of the 20th century, we continued to invest, to ensure our public health, safety, and economy. but now, in the 21st century, we face the need to revisit our commitment to the buried assets and infrastructure that for so long have provided for our way of life. johnson: infrastructure across this country needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now. hunter: what we need is responsible stewardship. we just can't turn a blind eye and say that they're going to continue to work for another 50 or 100 years. franklin: we can't be embarrassed
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to tell our congresspeople that we want something different. kelly: it's going to take state officials, it's going to take federal assistance, it's going to take all of us to get this united states back where it belongs. we're not there yet, but we can be there. grumbles: water is america's greatest liquid asset. and citizens and governments all need to be reminded of that from time to time. woman: what can individuals do to make a difference? allbee: we need to accept the responsibility that future generations need to be able to rely on those assets to have the same quality of life that we have. oberstar: all the water there ever was or ever will be is here on earth today and it's our responsibility now, at this time, in this generation, to protect it. that must be our legacy to the future.
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November 26, 2012 5:30am-6:00am PST

TOPIC FREQUENCY Griffin 7, Atlanta 6, The City 3, America 2, City 1, Rockdale 1, United States 1, As Atlantans 1, Shirley Franklin 1, Us 1, Exfiltration 1
Network SFGTV2
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 89 (615 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 544
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color